Partners of long-term gynaecologic cancer survivors: psychiatric morbidity, psychosexual outcomes and supportive care needs

Gynecol Oncol. 2010 Sep;118(3):268-73. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2010.05.019. Epub 2010 Jun 8.


Objective: To describe long-term psychological morbidity, unmet supportive care needs, positive changes, sexual outcomes and relationship satisfaction in partners of gynaecologic cancer survivors, as compared with respective survivors.

Method: Self-report measures were administered to a cross-sectional sample of 68 partners recruited via patient survivors.

Results: Rates of depression and anxiety among partners were 8.8% and 10.3%, respectively. Anxiety was higher among survivors than partners (P=0.003). Partners reported a mean of 3.25 unmet needs and 48.5% had at least one unmet need. At least one positive change was reported by 66.2% of partners. Greater number of unmet needs was the most important predictor of both anxiety (beta=0.39; P=0.001) and depression (beta=0.45; P<0.001). Poor relationship satisfaction independently predicted greater anxiety (beta=-0.28; P=0.01). Perceptions of relationship satisfaction did not differ within couples. Half of couples had been sexually active in the preceding month. Most reported no change in interest in physical contact (76.4%) or sex (70.6%), had excellent sexual function and high levels of satisfaction with sex life. Compared to partners, survivors perceived worse vaginal stenosis and dryness (both P=0.002) and worse satisfaction with (survivors') appearance (P<0.001). Partner outcomes were not associated with demographic variables or survivors' clinical characteristics.

Conclusion: The majority of partners reported excellent sexual outcomes and little perceived change since the survivors' diagnosis. The association between unmet needs and psychological morbidity suggests a useful target for further intervention. Despite methodological limitations, these data are novel and present a starting point for further investigation to improve outcomes for survivors and partners.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / etiology
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / psychology*
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Sexuality / psychology*
  • Spouses / psychology*
  • Survivors / psychology
  • Treatment Outcome